For some, the art of fighting comes naturally. All the training, the drills and the sparring seems to flow and thus transition into the actual bout perfectly. A big part of what it is to be a professional mixed martial artist in this day and age is being able to partake in media obligations. It is something that has come to be expected of top-tier fighters. Gone are the days when it’s just the fight that can do the talking, and that’s something that New Zealand’s No. 1 women’s featherweight fighter Faith Van Duin is very conscious of with her impending rise to the top of the sport.

It doesn’t come naturally to everyone to stand in the limelight outside of the cage. That’s certainly a battle all on its own for Van Duin. Much like her success in the later stages of 2013, it’s a battle that she plans on winning at all costs.

“When I was younger, I was a very shy person,” Van Duin admitted in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner. “For me going into my last fight, the scariest thing was doing the interviews and stuff beforehand [laughs]. It’s something that you have to get used to, though. I don’t really like having my photo taken or anything, but I know that it’s going to come with what I want, which is to be signed by Invicta. I’ll do whatever it takes to get my shot. I will do whatever it takes to be signed by Invicta, and I will fight anybody I need to so that I can get my chance.”

Having not competed in a little over four months, Van Duin is eager to continue with her winning streak inside the cage. With fight opportunities in her native New Zealand almost non-existent and with a desire to continue to test her skills against other ranked fighters, she has to look abroad for opportunities. Needless to say, she is looking far and wide for any opportunity that could see her better her chances at being signed to Invicta FC.

“At this stage, we are hoping that I can fight in February,” Van Duin explained. “I really want to get back in there, and we are looking for an official contract with Invicta. My management team are putting out the feelers, but at this stage I just want to get in there again. I’ve just been focusing on training and getting myself ready for whenever my next challenge will be.”

After winning an Australian title through competing in the Storm Damage one-night elimination gauntlet for the promotion’s featherweight title, it would be easy for Van Duin to go back to New Zealand and rest on her laurels. However, that’s not how life works for Van Duin.

“I still work full-time, so nothing has really changed at all,” she said. “I am just training and still looking after my daughters and just carrying on with life. It’s good to have won the belt, though, because I think it has inspired some of the other girls that train in MMA in New Zealand and shows them that we can gain success when we fight overseas.”

Before her bouts at Storm Damage, Van Duin had just one lone fight for a win on her record. After her success on Aug. 31, 2013, she quadrupled her fight record and still remained undefeated. Going from seemingly unknown to becoming a top-ranked fighter in the featherweight division is a pretty sudden turnaround for the New Zealand prospect.

“I had no idea I’d even be considered in the rankings from the Storm Damage Tournament. I just wanted to fight, and I was happy to be able to go over and compete,” Van Duin admitted. “My goal is to be No. 1 in the world and to fight the very best fighters out there. I just want to get the chance to show the world what the girls from New Zealand can do.”

Going from a virtually unknown fighter with a single fight to a highly touted prospect basically overnight can be a tough transition for a fighter to deal with. Expectations that hadn’t existed previously are now a firm reality, and now comes a time when a potential match-up is about much more than just the fight itself. Taking the right fights with the right amount of publicity is paramount to ensure that her career continues to head in the right direction.

Van Duin, having shown what she can do in just one night when faced with three very different opponents, is ready to take the next big step in her professional fighting career. No amount of past shyness is going to take this away from her.

Faith would like to thank her management team, Lucy Tui Sassen, Alan Orr, Regy Yamat and Trevor Salang, for being outstanding in their support, her mum (Anahera Van Duin), her uncle (Stephan Tango) who has been like a dad to her, her brother and his wife (Joesph & Sarah Van Duin), her children (Rangimarie, Rererangi, Ocean, Zavia, Johannes), her big brother and his partner (Jason Van Duin, Olivia Brittain and Baby Honor) and her many Whanau, whose support and belief in her has given her the courage and fortitude to bring her dream to fruition. She would also like to add thanks to Eddy Millis and Steve Moxon for their training and help over the Christmas holidays. Follow Faith on Twitter: @faithimmortal

About The Author

Staff Writer, Australia

Located in Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Neil Rooke has been writing about the sport of MMA since 2011. In the past, Neil has written for Cage Junkies and has written for Fight! Magazine as well as Fist! Fight Magazine. Neil is also a regular contributor to Fight! Magazine Australia and Yahoo! Sports Singapore.

  • Jarryd

    Nice article. Faith is amazing and a true inspriation. The world will fall in love with her once they get to know her. She will succeed inside and outside the cage.